Battle of Passchendaele
The Battle of Passchendaele known as the Third Battle of Ypres, was a campaign of the First World War, fought by the Allies against the German Empire. The battle took place on the Western Front, from July to November 1917, for control of the ridges south and east of the Belgian city of Ypres in West Flanders, as part of a strategy decided by the Allies at conferences in November 1916 and May 1917. Passchendaele lay on the last ridge east of Ypres, 5 mi from a railway junction at Roulers, vital to the supply system of the German 4th Army; the next stage of the Allied plan was an advance to Thourout–Couckelaere, to close the German-controlled railway running through Roulers and Thourout. Further operations and a British supporting attack along the Belgian coast from Nieuwpoort, combined with Operation Hush, were to have reached Bruges and the Dutch frontier; the resistance of the 4th Army, unusually wet weather, the onset of winter and the diversion of British and French resources to Italy, following the Austro-German victory at the Battle of Caporetto, enabled the Germans to avoid a general withdrawal, which had seemed inevitable in early October.
The campaign ended in November, when the Canadian Corps captured Passchendaele, apart from local attacks in December and in early 1918. The Battle of the Lys and the Fifth Battle of Ypres were fought before the Allies occupied the Belgian coast and reached the Dutch frontier. A campaign in Flanders has remained so; the British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, opposed the offensive, as did General Ferdinand Foch, the French Chief of the General Staff. Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, commanding the British Expeditionary Force, did not receive approval for the Flanders operation from the War Cabinet until 25 July. Matters of dispute by the participants and historians since the war, have included the wisdom of pursuing an offensive strategy in the wake of the Nivelle Offensive, rather than waiting for the arrival of the American Expeditionary Force in France; the choice of Flanders over areas further south or the Italian front, the climate of Flanders, the choice of General Hubert Gough and the Fifth Army to conduct the offensive, debates over the nature of the opening attack and between advocates of shallow and deeper objectives, remain controversial.
The passage of time between the Battle of Messines and the Battle of Pilckem Ridge, the first Allied attack of the Third Battle of Ypres, the extent to which the internal troubles of the French armies motivated British persistence with the offensive, the effect of the exceptional weather, the decision to continue the offensive in October and the human cost of the campaign for the soldiers of the German and British armies, have been argued over. Belgium had been recognised in the Treaty of London as a sovereign and neutral state after the secession of the southern provinces of the Netherlands in 1830; the German invasion of Belgium on 4 August 1914, in violation of Article VII of the treaty, was the British casus belli against Germany. British military operations in Belgium began with the arrival of the British Expeditionary Force at Mons on 22 August. Operations in Flanders began during the Race to the Sea, reciprocal attempts by the French and German armies to turn their opponents' northern flank, through Picardy and Flanders.
On 10 October, Lieutenant-General Erich von Falkenhayn, the Chief of Staff of the Oberste Heeresleitung, ordered an attack towards Dunkirk and Calais, followed by a turn south behind the Allied armies, to gain a decisive victory. On 16 October, the Belgians and some French reinforcements began the defence of western Belgium and the French Channel ports, at the Battle of the Yser; when the German offensive failed, Falkenhayn ordered the capture of Ypres to gain a local advantage. By 18 November, the First Battle of Ypres had ended in failure, at a cost of 160,000 German casualties. In December 1914, the British Admiralty began discussions with the War Office, for a combined operation to re-occupy the Belgian coast but were obliged to conform to French strategy and participate in offensives further south. Large British offensive operations in Flanders were not possible in 1915, due to a lack of resources; the Germans conducted their own Flanders offensive at the Second Battle of Ypres, making the Ypres salient more costly to defend.
Sir Douglas Haig succeeded Sir John French as Commander-in-Chief of the BEF on 19 December 1915. A week after his appointment, Haig met Vice-Admiral Sir Reginald Bacon, who emphasised the importance of obtaining control of the Belgian coast, to end the threat posed by German U-boats. Haig was sceptical of a coastal operation, believing that a landing from the sea would be far more difficult than anticipated and that an advance along the coast would require so much preparation, that the Germans would have ample warning. Haig preferred an advance from Ypres, to bypass the flooded area around the Yser and the coast, before attempting a coastal attack to clear the coast to the Dutch border. Minor operations took place in the Ypres salient in 1916, some being German initiatives to distract the Allies from the preparations for the offensive at Verdun and attempts to divert Allied resources from the Battle of the Somme. Other operations were begun by the British to regain territory or to evict the Germans from ground overlooking their positions.
Engagements took place on 12 February on 14 February at Hooge and Sanctuary Wood. There were actions from 14–15 February and 1–4 March at The Bluff, 27 March – 16 April at the St Eloi
Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig
Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, was a senior officer of the British Army. During the First World War, he commanded the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front from late 1915 until the end of the war, he was commander during the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Arras, the Third Battle of Ypres, the German Spring Offensive, the Hundred Days Offensive. Although he had gained a favourable reputation during the immediate post-war years, with his funeral becoming a day of national mourning, Haig has, since the 1960s, become an object of criticism for his leadership during the First World War, he was nicknamed "Butcher Haig" for the two million British casualties endured under his command. The Canadian War Museum comments, "His epic but costly offensives at the Somme and Passchendaele have become nearly synonymous with the carnage and futility of First World War battles." Conversely, he led the BEF during the final Hundred Days Offensive when it crossed the Canal du Nord and broke through the Hindenburg line, capturing 195,000 German prisoners.
This campaign, in combination with the Kiel mutiny, the Wilhelmshaven mutiny, the proclamation of a republic on 9 November 1918, civil unrest across Germany, led to the armistice of 11 November 1918. It is considered by some historians to be one of the greatest victories achieved by a British-led army. Major-General Sir John Davidson, one of Haig's biographers, praised Haig's leadership, since the 1980s many historians have argued that the public hatred in which Haig's name had come to be held failed to recognise the adoption of new tactics and technologies by forces under his command, the important role played by British forces in the allied victory of 1918, that high casualties were a consequence of the tactical and strategic realities of the time. Haig was born in a house on Edinburgh, his father John Richard Haig—an irascible alcoholic—was middle class, though as head of the family's successful Haig & Haig whisky distillery, he had an income of £10,000 per year, an enormous amount at the time.
His mother, was from a gentry family fallen into straitened circumstances. Rachel's cousin, Violet Veitch, was mother of the playwright and performer Noël Coward. Haig's education began in 1869 as a boarder at Mr Bateson's School in St Andrews. In 1869, he switched to Edinburgh Collegiate School, in 1871 to Orwell House, a preparatory school in Warwickshire, he attended Clifton College, a public school. Both of Haig's parents died by the time. After a tour of the United States with his brother, Haig studied Political Economy, Ancient History and French Literature at Brasenose College, Oxford, 1880–1883, he devoted much of his time to socialising – he was a member of the Bullingdon Club – and equestrian sports. He was one of the best young horsemen at Oxford and found his way into the University polo team. Whilst an undergraduate he was initiated as a Freemason in Elgin’s Lodge at Leven No. 91 at Leven, taking the first and second degrees of Freemasonry. In 1920 the Earl of Eglinton encouraged Haig to complete his Masonic progression, he returned to his lodge to take the third degree, subsequently serving as Worshipful Master of the lodge from 1925 to 1926.
He became an officer of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Although he passed his final exam at Oxford, he was not eligible for a degree as he had missed a term's residence due to sickness, if he had stayed for longer he would have been above the age limit to begin officer training at the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, which he entered in January 1884; because he had been to university, Haig was older than most of his class at Sandhurst. He was Senior Under-Officer, was awarded the Anson Sword, passed out first in the order of merit, he was commissioned as a lieutenant into the 7th Hussars on 7 February 1885. Early in his military career, Haig played polo for England on a tour of the United States, he would remain a polo enthusiast all his life, serving as Chairman of the Hurlingham Polo Committee from its reorganization in May 1914 until 1922. He would be President of the Army Polo Committee and founder of the Indian Polo Association. Haig saw overseas service in India, where he was appointed the regiment's adjutant in 1888.
He was something of a disciplinarian, but impressed his superiors by his administrative skill and analysis of recent training exercises. He was promoted to captain on 23 January 1891. Haig left India in November 1892 to prepare for the entrance exam for the Staff College, which he sat in June 1893. Although he was placed in the top 28 candidates he was not awarded a place as he had narrowly failed the compulsory mathematics paper, he concealed this failure for the rest of his life and recommended dropping the mathematics paper as a requirement. The Adjutant-General Sir Redvers Buller refused to award Haig one of the four nominated places, citing his colour blindness, despite Haig having his eyesight rechecked by a German oculist and despite Haig's glowing testimonials from various senior officers, some of them lobbied by Haig and his sister, it has been postulated that Buller was looking for a rationale in order to give a place to an infantry officer. Haig returned to India
Elizabeth II is Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms. Elizabeth was born in London as the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, she was educated at home, her father acceded to the throne on the abdication of his brother King Edward VIII in 1936, from which time she was the heir presumptive. She began to undertake public duties during the Second World War, serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. In 1947, she married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, a former prince of Greece and Denmark, with whom she has four children: Charles, Prince of Wales; when her father died in February 1952, she became head of the Commonwealth and queen regnant of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Ceylon. She has reigned as a constitutional monarch through major political changes, such as devolution in the United Kingdom, Canadian patriation, the decolonisation of Africa. Between 1956 and 1992, the number of her realms varied as territories gained independence and realms, including South Africa and Ceylon, became republics.
Her many historic visits and meetings include a state visit to the Republic of Ireland and visits to or from five popes. Significant events have included her coronation in 1953 and the celebrations of her Silver and Diamond Jubilees in 1977, 2002, 2012 respectively. In 2017, she became the first British monarch to reach a Sapphire Jubilee, she is the longest-lived and longest-reigning British monarch as well as the world's longest-reigning queen regnant and female head of state, the oldest and longest-reigning current monarch and the longest-serving current head of state. Elizabeth has faced republican sentiments and press criticism of the royal family, in particular after the breakdown of her children's marriages, her annus horribilis in 1992 and the death in 1997 of her former daughter-in-law Diana, Princess of Wales. However, support for the monarchy has been and remains high, as does her personal popularity. Elizabeth was born at 02:40 on 21 April 1926, during the reign of her paternal grandfather, King George V.
Her father, the Duke of York, was the second son of the King. Her mother, the Duchess of York, was the youngest daughter of Scottish aristocrat the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, she was delivered by Caesarean section at her maternal grandfather's London house: 17 Bruton Street, Mayfair. She was baptised by the Anglican Archbishop of York, Cosmo Gordon Lang, in the private chapel of Buckingham Palace on 29 May, named Elizabeth after her mother, Alexandra after George V's mother, who had died six months earlier, Mary after her paternal grandmother. Called "Lilibet" by her close family, based on what she called herself at first, she was cherished by her grandfather George V, during his serious illness in 1929 her regular visits were credited in the popular press and by biographers with raising his spirits and aiding his recovery. Elizabeth's only sibling, Princess Margaret, was born in 1930; the two princesses were educated at home under the supervision of their mother and their governess, Marion Crawford.
Lessons concentrated on history, language and music. Crawford published a biography of Elizabeth and Margaret's childhood years entitled The Little Princesses in 1950, much to the dismay of the royal family; the book describes Elizabeth's love of horses and dogs, her orderliness, her attitude of responsibility. Others echoed such observations: Winston Churchill described Elizabeth when she was two as "a character, she has an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant." Her cousin Margaret Rhodes described her as "a jolly little girl, but fundamentally sensible and well-behaved". During her grandfather's reign, Elizabeth was third in the line of succession to the throne, behind her uncle Edward and her father. Although her birth generated public interest, she was not expected to become queen, as Edward was still young. Many people believed he would have children of his own; when her grandfather died in 1936 and her uncle succeeded as Edward VIII, she became second-in-line to the throne, after her father.
That year, Edward abdicated, after his proposed marriage to divorced socialite Wallis Simpson provoked a constitutional crisis. Elizabeth's father became king, she became heir presumptive. If her parents had had a son, she would have lost her position as first-in-line, as her brother would have been heir apparent and above her in the line of succession. Elizabeth received private tuition in constitutional history from Henry Marten, Vice-Provost of Eton College, learned French from a succession of native-speaking governesses. A Girl Guides company, the 1st Buckingham Palace Company, was formed so she could socialise with girls her own age, she was enrolled as a Sea Ranger. In 1939, Elizabeth's parents toured the United States; as in 1927, when her parents had toured Australia and New Zealand, Elizabeth remained in Britain, since her father thought her too young to undertake public tours. Elizabeth "looked tearful", they corresponded and she and her parents made the first royal transatlantic telephone call on 18 May.
In September 1939, Britain entered the Second World War. Lord Hailsham suggested that the two princesses should be evacuated to Canada to avoid the frequent aerial bombing; this was rejected by Elizabeth's mother. I won't leave wit
John Herbert Foulds was an English composer of classical music. He was self-taught as a composer, belongs to the figures of the English Musical Renaissance. A successful composer of light music and theatre scores, his principal creative energies went into more ambitious and exploratory works that were influenced by Indian music. Suffering a setback after the decline in popularity of his World Requiem, he left London for Paris in 1927, travelled to India in 1935 where, among other things, he collected folk music, composed pieces for traditional Indian instrument ensembles, worked for a radio station. Foulds was an adventurous figure of great innate superb technical skill. Among his best works are Three Mantras for orchestra and wordless chorus, Essays in the Modes for piano, the piano concerto Dynamic Triptych, his ninth string quartet Quartetto Intimo. John Foulds was born in Hulme, England, on 2 November 1880, the son of a bassoonist in the Hallé Orchestra. Prolific from childhood, Foulds himself joined the Hallé as a cellist in 1900, having served an apprenticeship in theatre and promenade orchestras in England and abroad.
Hans Richter gave him conducting experience. Foulds was Jewish. In some respects ahead of his time, Foulds was in others an intensely practical musician, he became a successful composer of light music – his Keltic Lament was once a popular favourite and in the 1920s the BBC scheduled his music on a daily basis. This was a source of irritation to Foulds; this state of affairs is rather a galling one for a serious artist." Foulds wrote many effective theatre scores, notably for his friends Lewis Casson and Sybil Thorndike. The best known was the music for the first production of George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan, he wrote the score for Casson's successful West End production of Shakespeare's Henry VIII, which ran from December 1925 to March 1926. However, his principal creative energies went into more ambitious and exploratory works coloured by his interest in the music of the East India. Foulds moved to London before World War I, in 1915 during the war he met the violinist Maud MacCarthy, one of the leading Western authorities on Indian music.
His gigantic World Requiem, in memory of the dead of all nations, was performed at the Royal Albert Hall, conducted by Foulds, under the auspices of The Royal British Legion on Armistice Night, 11 November, in 1923 by up to 1,250 instrumentalists and singers. Performances in 1924 and 1925 took place at the Queen's Hall. In 1926 it returned to the Albert Hall, but this was to be the last performance until 2007, again at the Albert Hall; the performances in 1923–26 constituted the first Festivals of Remembrance. While some critics were not impressed by the work, it was nonetheless popular. One newspaper wrote: "The scope of the work is beyond, it is no less than to find expression for the deepest and most widespread unhappiness this generation has known. As such it was received by a large number of listeners, who evidently felt that music alone could do this for them." However, the work ceased to be performed after 1926. Some commentators have suggested a conspiracy against Foulds – his biographer Malcolm MacDonald has, for instance, implied some sort of "intrigue".
It appears Foulds was regarded as an inappropriate composer for the occasion because he had not fought in the war, or because of his suspected Left-wing views. When interest in the World Requiem lapsed, Foulds suffered a grave setback and in 1927 left for Paris, working there as an accompanist for silent films. Here, he was acquainted with the Irish-American composer Swan Hennessy with whom he shared an interest in musical Celticism. In 1934 he published a book on Music To-day. In 1935 he travelled to India, where he collected folk music, became Director of European Music for All-India Radio in Delhi, created an orchestra from scratch, began to work towards his dream of a musical synthesis of East and West composing pieces for ensembles of traditional Indian instruments, he was so successful. Tragically, within a week of arriving there, he died of cholera on 25 April 1939. Foulds' most substantial compositions include string quartets, symphonic poems, piano pieces and a huge "concert opera" on Dante's The Divine Comedy, as well as a series of "Music-Pictures" exploring the affinities between music and styles of painting.
Few of these works were performed and fewer published in his lifetime, several from his last period in India, are lost. Foulds' daughter deposited some of the surviving manuscripts by her father in the British Library. Foulds became a footnote to English music after his death, but from 1974 Malcolm MacDonald, editor of the music journal Tempo under the alias Calum MacDonald, conducted an lonely campaign for Foulds after he came ac
Richmond is a suburban town in south-west London, 8.2 miles west-southwest of Charing Cross. It is on a meander of the River Thames, with a large number of parks and open spaces, including Richmond Park, many protected conservation areas, which include much of Richmond Hill. A specific Act of Parliament protects the scenic view of the River Thames from Richmond. Richmond was founded following Henry VII's building of Richmond Palace in the 16th century, from which the town derives its name. During this era the town and palace were associated with Elizabeth I, who spent her last days here. During the 18th century Richmond Bridge was completed and many Georgian terraces were built around Richmond Green and on Richmond Hill; these remain well preserved and many have listed building architectural or heritage status. The opening of the railway station in 1846 was a significant event in the absorption of the town into a expanding London. Richmond was part of the ancient parish of Kingston upon Thames in the county of Surrey.
In 1890 the town became a municipal borough, extended to include Kew, Ham and part of Mortlake. The municipal borough was abolished in 1965 when, as a result of local government reorganisation, Richmond was transferred from Surrey to Greater London. Richmond is now part of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, has a population of 21,469, it has a significant retail centre with a developed day and evening economy. The name Richmond upon Thames is used, incorrectly, to refer to the town of Richmond: in fact, the suffix should properly be used only in reference to the London Borough; until 1501, Richmond was known as Shene. Shene was not listed in Domesday Book, although it is depicted on the associated maps as Sceon, its Saxon spelling. Henry VII had a palace built there and in 1501 he named it Richmond Palace in recognition of his earldom and his ancestral home at Richmond Castle in Yorkshire; the town that developed nearby took the same name as the palace. Henry I lived in the King's house in "Sheanes".
In 1299 Edward I, the "Hammer of the Scots", took his whole court to the manor house at Sheen, a little east of the bridge and on the riverside, it thus became a royal residence. Edward II, following his defeat by the Scots at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, founded a monastery for Carmelites at Sheen; when the boy-king Edward III came to the throne in 1327 he gave the manor to his mother Isabella. Edward spent over £ 2,000 on improvements, but in the middle of the work Edward himself died at the manor, in 1377. Richard II was the first English king to make Sheen his main residence, which he did in 1383. Twelve years Richard was so distraught at the death of his wife Anne of Bohemia at the age of 28 that, according to Holinshed, the 16th-century English chronicler, he "caused it to be thrown down and defaced, it was rebuilt between 1414 and 1422, but destroyed by fire in 1497. Following that fire Henry VII built a new residence at Sheen and in 1501 he named it Richmond Palace. There are unconfirmed beliefs.
When Elizabeth I became queen she spent much of her time at Richmond, as she enjoyed hunting stags in the "Newe Parke of Richmonde". She died at the palace on 24 March 1603; the palace was no longer in residential use after 1649, but in 1688 James II ordered its partial reconstruction: this time as a royal nursery. The bulk of the palace had decayed by 1779; this has five bedrooms and was made available on a 65-year lease by the Crown Estate Commissioners in 1986. Beyond the grounds of the old palace, Richmond remained agricultural land until the 18th century. White Lodge, in the middle of what is now Richmond Park, was built as a hunting lodge for George II and during this period the number of large houses in their own grounds – such as Asgill House and Pembroke Lodge – increased significantly; these were followed by the building of further important houses including Downe House, Wick House and The Wick on Richmond Hill, as this area became an fashionable place to live. Richmond Bridge was completed in 1777 to replace a ferry crossing that connected Richmond town centre on the east bank with its neighbouring district of East Twickenham.
Today, together with the well-preserved Georgian terraces that surround Richmond Green and line Richmond Hill to its crest, now has listed building status. As Richmond continued to prosper and expand during the 19th century, much luxurious housing was built on the streets that line Richmond Hill, as well as shops in the town centre to serve the increasing population. In July 1892 the Corporation formed a joint-stock company, the Richmond Electric Light and Power Company, this wired the town for electricity by around 1896. Like many other large towns in Britain, Richmond lost many young people in the First and Second World Wars. In the Second World War, 96 people were killed in air raids, which resulted in the demolition of 297 houses; the Richmond War Memorial, which now commemorates both wars, was installed in the 1920s at the end of Whittaker Avenue, between t
James Hillier Blount, better known by his stage name James Blunt, is an English singer-songwriter, record producer and former British Army Officer. Blunt rose to fame in 2004 with the release of his debut album Back to Bedlam, achieving worldwide fame with the singles "You're Beautiful" and "Goodbye My Lover"; the album has sold over 11 million copies worldwide, topping the UK Albums Chart and peaking at number two in the US. "You're Beautiful" was number one in the UK, the US and a dozen other countries. Back to Bedlam was the best-selling album of the 2000s in the UK, is one of the best-selling albums in UK chart history. Blunt has sold over 20 million records worldwide, he has received several awards, including two Brit Awards—winning Best British Male in 2006—two MTV Video Music Awards and two Ivor Novello Awards, as well as receiving five Grammy Award nominations. Blunt was a reconnaissance officer in the Life Guards, a cavalry regiment of the British Army, served under NATO in the Kosovo War in 1999.
He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate for Music in 2016 by University of Bristol. James Hillier Blount was born on 22 February 1974 at an army hospital in Tidworth in the county of Hampshire, he is the first of three children to Jane Ann Farran Blount. His father was a cavalry officer in the 13th/18th Royal Hussars and a helicopter pilot and colonel of the Army Air Corps, his mother started up a ski chalet company in Méribel. The Blount family has a long history of military service, dating back to the arrival of their Danish ancestors in England in the 10th century, he grew up in St Mary Bourne in Hampshire, but moved every two years depending on his father's military postings in: Middle Wallop. He spent time in Cley next the Sea, where his father owned Cley Windmill, he was educated at Elstree School in Woolhampton and Harrow School, gaining A-levels in Physics and Economics. He went on to study Aerospace Manufacturing Engineering and Sociology at University of Bristol, graduating with a BSc in Sociology in 1996.
Like his father, Blunt is a pilot, gaining his fixed winged private pilot licence at age 16, has a keen interest in motorcycles. Having been sponsored through university on an army bursary, Blunt was committed to serve a minimum of four years in the armed forces, he trained at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, in intake 963, was commissioned into the Life Guards, a reconnaissance regiment. He rose to the rank of captain; the Life Guards, part of the Household Cavalry Regiment, were based in Combermere Barracks. Blunt was trained in British Army Training Unit Suffield in Alberta, where his regiment was posted for six months in 1998 to act as the opposing army in combat training exercises. In 1999, Blunt volunteered to join a Royals squadron deploying with NATO to Kosovo. Assigned to carry out reconnaissance of the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia–Yugoslavia border, Blunt's troop worked ahead of the front lines and targeting Serb forces for the NATO bombing campaign. On 12 June 1999, the troop led the 30,000-strong NATO peacekeeping force from the Macedonia border towards Pristina International Airport.
However, a Russian military contingent had moved in and taken control of the airport before his unit's arrival. American NATO commander Wesley Clark ordered that the unit forcibly take the airport from the Russians. General Mike Jackson, the British commander, refused the order, telling Clark that they were "not going to start World War Three for you". Blunt has said. During Blunt's Kosovo assignment he had brought along his guitar, strapped to the outside of his tank, would sometimes perform for locals and troops, it was while on duty there that he wrote the song "No Bravery". Blunt extended his military service in November 2000, was posted to the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment in London, as the Queen's Guard. During this posting, he was featured on the television programme "Girls on Top", a series highlighting unusual career choices, he stood guard at the coffin of the Queen Mother during her lying in state and was part of the funeral procession on 9 April 2002. A keen skier, Blunt captained the Household Cavalry alpine ski team in Verbier, becoming Royal Armoured Corps giant slalom champion in 2000.
He left the army on 1 October 2002 having served six years. Blunt had piano and violin lessons as a child, but was introduced to the electric guitar aged 14 at Harrow by a fellow student, his dissertation at Bristol University was entitled The Commodification of Image – Production of a Pop Idol. One of his sources was Simon Frith, a sociologist and rock critic, chair of the Mercury Music Prize panel of judges since 1992, who undertook a lecture tour entitled "The unpopular and unpleasant thoughts inspired by the work of James Blunt". While still in the army Blunt would write songs during his time off. A backing vocalist and songwriting collaborator suggested he contact Elton John's manager, Todd Interland, with whom she used to share a house. Interland told HitQuarters that he listened to Blunt's demo while driving home and, after hearing the track'Goodbye My Lover', pulled over and called the mobile number written on the CD to set up a meeting. Blunt left the British Army in 2002, he started using the stage name "Blunt" in part to make it easier for others to spell.
Shortly after leaving the army he was signed to EMI music publishers and to Twenty-First Artists management. A record contract remained elusive, with reco
War Horse (film)
War Horse is a 2011 war drama film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg from a screenplay written by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis, based on Michael Morpurgo's 1982 novel of the same name and its 2007 play adaptation. The film's ensemble cast includes Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Marsan, Niels Arestrup, Toby Kebbell, David Kross, Peter Mullan. Set before and during World War I, it tells of the journey of Joey, a bay Thoroughbred horse raised by British teenager Albert, as he is bought by the British Army, leading him to encounter numerous individuals and owners throughout Europe, all the while experiencing the tragedies of the war happening around him. DreamWorks Pictures acquired the film rights to the novel in December 2009, with Spielberg announced to direct the film in May 2010. Having directed many films set during the Second World War, it was his first film to tackle the events of World War I. Long-term Spielberg collaborators Janusz Kamiński, Michael Kahn, Rick Carter, John Williams all worked on the film as cinematographer, production designer, music composer, respectively.
Produced by DreamWorks Pictures and released worldwide by Touchstone Pictures, War Horse became a box-office success and was met with positive reviews. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, two Golden Globe Awards and five BAFTAs. In 1912, a bay Thoroughbred is born in England. At auction, farmer Ted Narracott outbids his landlord Lyons for the colt, to the dismay of his wife Rose, their son Albert, accompanied by his best friend Andrew, names the colt Joey, teaches him to come when he imitates an owl's call. Against all odds, the horse and boy plow a rocky field, saving the family's farm. Rose shows Albert his father's medals from the Second Boer War, gives him Ted's regimental pennant, confiding in Albert that his father carries physical and mental scars from the war. In 1914, as war with Germany is declared, a heavy downpour ruins the family's crops, forcing Ted to sell Joey to the army. Captain James Nicholls promises to look after the steed. Albert tries to enlist but is too young, before the company departs, he ties his father's pennant to Joey's bridle.
Joey bonds with Topthorn, a black horse with whom he is trained for his military role. The horses are deployed to Flanders with a flying column under the command of Nicholls and Major Jamie Stewart, they lead a cavalry charge through a German encampment, but the unit is mown down by machine gun fire. Nicholls is killed along with all his fellow cavalrymen. Gunther, a young German soldier, is assigned to the care of Topthorn; when his brother Michael is sent to the front line, Gunther takes the horses and the four of them desert. The German army soon tracks down the boys and they are shot for desertion, they are found by a French girl named Emilie. German soldiers arrive at her grandfather's farm. For her birthday, Emilie's grandfather allows her to ride Joey. Emilie's grandfather keeps the pennant. By 1918, Albert is fighting alongside Andrew in the Second Battle of the Somme. After a British charge into no man's land and Andrew miraculously make it across to the German trench, where a gas bomb explodes.
The Germans use Topthorn to haul artillery, under the care of Private Henglemann. He tries to free them, but Topthorn succumbs to exhaustion and dies. Joey escapes, narrowly evading an oncoming Mark IV tank, gallops into no man's land where he becomes entangled in barbed wire. Colin, a British soldier, tries to free him. Peter, a German soldier, comes over with wire cutters, together they rescue Joey and remark on the remorseless war. To decide who should take the horse, they flip a coin. Andrew is killed by the gas attack but Albert survives, temporarily blinded. While recuperating, he hears about the "miraculous horse" rescued from no-man's land. Just as Joey is about to be put down, he hears Albert's owl call. Albert, his eyes still bandaged, is able to describe Joey in perfect detail, the two are reunited. World War I ends, Joey is ordered to be auctioned. Though Albert's comrades raise a collection to bid for the horse, the auction is won by Emilie's grandfather, who tells Albert that Emilie has died and the horse is all he has left of her.
However, the old man recognizes the strength of the soldier's bond, returns the pennant and Joey to Albert, as "Emilie would have wanted." Albert returns with Joey to his family's farm, embracing his mother and returning the pennant to his father. The elder Narracott extends his hand like him, a former soldier. Joey watches on with pride. Michael Morpurgo wrote the 1982 children's novel War Horse after meeting World War I veterans in the Devon village of Iddesleigh where he lived. One was involved with horses. Both told him of the horrific conditions and loss of life and animal, during the Great War. A third man remembered the army coming to the village to buy horses for the war effort: horses were used for cavalry and as draught animals, pulling guns and other vehicles. Morpurgo researched the subject further and lea